Meadville Tribune

April 28, 2013

Antique equipment club stirs up soil and memories

By Konstantine Fekos
Meadville Tribune

COCHRANTON — The French Creek Valley Antique Equipment Club says its tractors and plows are yielding substantial growth — in terms of attendance, that is.

Club members were pleased to report a higher attendance at the 16th annual Spring Show and Plow Day on Saturday morning, designed to till soil as well as turn up old memories.

“It’s a place to exercise antique equipment,” said John Alsdorf, who hosts the event at his farm in Cochranton. “We promote the way things used to be, without modern equipment.”

The exhibition of trucks, tractors and other farm-related equipment, dating as far back as the 1930s, drew a crowd of about 200 between 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., according to Judy Kutruff, treasurer.

Participating members overturned approximately 35 acres of Alsdorf’s Farm and surrounding property with antique tractors, lawn tractors and teams of horses, demonstrating plowing techniques used frequently before the adoption of modern techniques such as no-till farm and direct planting.

“We did better than last year; it was cold and rainy then,” she said. “If anyone wants to see how plowing was done in the past, they can see it here as part of our history.”

History comes to life every day for Jeff Bell, vice president, and Gerald Kutruff, board member, who raise grain and feed crops using their antique equipment.

“Every day is a plow day for us,” Bell said. “We still do things the old way using this old stuff.”

This year’s colder start to spring set some crop cycles back a bit, but these two club members maintain hope for a strong yield overall.

“The cold and wet weather kind of pushed things back and we’re a little behind right now, but not too far behind,” Gerald Kutruff said.

“Hay might be decent this year,” Bell said, recalling last year’s hay and oat yields as low, given the intermittent dry spells. “All in all, this year looks like it will be good.”

Saturday’s clear skies and comfortable temperatures certainly delighted the spectators, who arrived from surrounding states and even Canada, according to Ron Hersman, club president.

“It’s been a darn good year for us,” he said. “The weather treated us right, donations were up and people came from all over.”

The club raised more than $600 from this year’s Spring Show, according to Judy Kutruff. Since the event is free and open to the public, the club mostly relies on donations to pay for event costs and insurance. The Spring Show also featured a free lunch for hungry guests, provided they brought a dish of their own or made a donation.

French Creek Valley Antique Equipment Club has also collected canned goods and nonperishable items for the Cochranton Food Bank for the past several years.

While Hersman is proud of the event’s periodic growth and ability to withstand the test of time, much like the machinery it showcases, he does have one wish for the club’s future.

“We would like to see more young people jump in like in years past,” said Hersman. “We want to encourage new membership.”

For now, club members are setting their sights on future events, including the Summer Show at the Cochranton Fairgrounds on Father’s Day weekend, June 14 to 16.

The event is also free and is expected to feature a flea market, tractor pulls, children’s activities classic cars and more.

-More information: Contact the French Creek Valley Antique Equipment Club at 425-7424.

Konstantine Fekos can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at